‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS’
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What Lies Beneath with the Silurians, the Third Doctor, Liz and U.N.I.T.
The Silurians and the Sea Devils!
They are ‘Doctor Who’ monsters that fascinated me when I first heard about them before watching their TV stories. I was so looking forward to finding out more about the Silurians and the Sea Devils in their DVD box-set. I received the ‘Beneath the Surface’ DVD box set for my birthday in May 2008.
The three adventures in the box set are spread out across two eras of the show’s history. The first two stories are with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and third is with Peter Davison’s Doctor. I’m sure you’ll find this DVD box set worth having the entertainment. I’d enjoyed all three stories in their own ways.
‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ is a seven-part adventure by Malcolm Hulk on a 2-disc DVD. Disc 1 contains ‘Episodes One to Four’ whilst Disc 2 contains ‘Episodes Five to Seven’. The story features Jon Pertwee’s Doctor with Caroline John as Liz Shaw and Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier with U.N.I.T.
This story is set at a scientific research centre built into a network of caves in Wenley Moor. Power losses and mental breakdowns occur with U.N.I.T. investigating. Both the Doctor and Liz Shaw discover a connection as the Silurian race is reviving after sleeping in hibernation for billions of years.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ signed by director Timothy Combe, who I met at the ‘Pandorica 2014’ convention in Bristol, September 2014. I told Tim that my name was Tim and he claimed to be my namesake, which I found funny. It was a pleasure to meet and chat to him.
I’ve chatted to Timothy Combe about the story. I mentioned that it had kept my interest all the way through, even at seven episodes, and I wasn’t bored by it. We also chatted about good the cast was in this TV tale, including the likes of Peter Miles; Fulton MacKay; Peter Halliday and Geoffrey Palmer.
This is Barry Letts’ first story as producer during the early 1970s of Jon Pertwee’s era. Although Jon Pertwee started with ‘Spearhead from Space’, this is where it really begins for the Third Doctor era. Malcolm Hulke was commissioned by Barry Letts and script-editor Terrance Dicks to write this story.
Malcolm Hulke was a friend and mentor of Terrance Dicks. Malcolm pointed out that there were only two types of story for the earthbound series of ‘Doctor Who’ – ‘alien invaders’ and ‘mad scientist’. Keen to prove Malcolm wrong, Terrance came up with the tale of ‘aliens’ on Earth already.
I found it intriguing when watching this story to think that there were aliens (or in this case reptilian creatures) that lived on the Earth before humans took over. The concepts are sometimes baffling and hard to believe at times. This makes for good storytelling on how Silurians and humans interact.
Malcolm Hulke delivers a story of socio-political themes that reflects on the atmosphere of 1970. This story raises questions about morality; social equality and how science can affect our lives. Hulke addresses the fear of the scientists and politicians and how the military makes unpopular decisions.
I enjoyed Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. Jon’s Doctor has come to terms with his exile on Earth. He has to bear the Brigadier’s military manner, but finds comfort in spending time with Liz as they both share a scientific interest and are good friends. The Doctor is the referee between the humans and Silurians.
Bessie also makes her first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. Bessie is the Third Doctor’s trusty yellow roadster car that he travels about in to get from place to place on Earth. I liked the scenes when the Doctor and Liz drive in Bessie, even though it turns out the car has an illegal license plate of ‘WHO1’.
It was great to watch lovely Caroline John as Liz Shaw. Liz is the scientist attached to U.N.I.T. who gets to help the Doctor in solving the mystery of what’s going on with the research centre and the caves. She helps the Doctor to find a cure for this deadly disease planted on humans by the Silurians.
Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier is brilliant. Seeing the Brigadier’s scenes with the Doctor are truly magical and mesmerising. They’re two friends with different points of view. The Brigadier is sceptical about the Doctor’s theories. It is like a double-act of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson between them.
Peter Miles guest stars as Dr Lawrence, the head of the scientific research centre. Peter would later play Nyder in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ with Tom Baker. Lawrence is pretty big-headed. He gets annoyed when U.N.I.T. comes to investigate and he goes berserk when he gets the Silurians’ disease.
Fulton MacKay guest stars as Dr Quinn. I’ve seen Fulton in some episodes of ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’. Dr Quinn is the leading scientist at the scientific research centre. Quinn discovers the Silurians and for his own selfish reasons wants to gain their scientific knowledge. He soon dies for it.
Geoffrey Palmer guest stars as Masters, the permanent under-secretary. I was glad to see Geoffrey in this as he was in a ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode, ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’. Masters comes to inspect the situation regarding the scientific research centre’s power losses, but is infected with the disease.
The supporting cast also includes Thomasine Heiner as Miss Dawson and Norman Jones as Major Baker (who has appeared in ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ and would later appear in ‘The Masque of Mandragora’). There’s also Paul Darrow (who would later play Tekker in ‘Timelash’) as Captain Hawkins.
I found the Silurians in ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ impressive. They do seem to be primitive in costume design, but I prefer their designs in this compared to other stories. All the voices for the Silurians are provided by Peter Halliday, who was Packer and voiced the Cybermen in ‘The Invasion’.
I liked the different varying characters of the Silurians in the story, as the Doctor manages to gain trust with the Older Silurian, whilst the Young Silurian is determined to destroy all humans. I liked the red eye at the top of their heads, as the Silurians use it a weapon and sometimes to open a door.
I found the story’s music by Carey Blyton a little disconcerting. Some of it works really well, but sometimes the music sounds silly and comical. The scene that I couldn’t take seriously was when the Silurians walk in and attack the Doctor instantly with their red eye. Even Jon’s comical look spoiled it.
The story ends with the Brigadier blowing up the Silurian base. When the Doctor realises what’s happened, he’s shocked and upset. To him, it’s murder of an alien species. But the Brigadier’s actions are justified as he did it to save his men. Who’s right and who’s wrong? The Doctor or the Brigadier?
The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a commentary on the first four episodes with Timothy Combe, Barry Letts; Terrance Dicks, Caroline John, Nicholas Courtney; Peter Miles and Geoffrey Palmer. There’s also an isolated music score option by Carey Blyton and an info-text commentary option to enjoy.
There’s a special documentary called ‘What Lies Beneath’. This looks into the socio-political climate surrounding ‘The Silurians’ story at the time during the 1970s and features interviews with cast and crew. There’s also a trailer for ‘The Ambassadors of Death’ at the end of Episode 7 of ‘The Silurians’.
On Disc 2, the commentary continues on ‘Episodes Five to Seven’. There’s also the continuing isolated music score option and the info-text commentary option. There’s a making-of documentary story called ‘Going Underground’ and the ‘Now and Then’ featurette that looks at the locations of ‘The Silurians’.
There’s ‘Musical Scales’, a documentary that looks into the music experimentation of 1970s ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Colour Silurian Overlay’, a featurette that looks into how the colourisation of ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ was made. There’s also a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF and a photo gallery of the story.
There’s also a coming soon trailer for ‘The Time Meddler’ with William Hartnell, Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves.
I really enjoyed ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’. It’s an interesting story that kept me captivated all the way through. It’s a pretty moralistic story with political and social themes reflecting the 1970s. I also enjoyed watching the Doctor; Liz and the Brigadier and the superb direction by Timothy Combe.
‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ rating – 9/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE CAVE MONSTERS’
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Deeper Beneath The Surface
This has been a pretty absorbing ‘Doctor Who’ book to read and listen to.
‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ is the novelization of ‘The Silurians’ story that was originally broadcast on TV in 1970 during Jon Pertwee’s first season as the Doctor. But it’s not the novelization you would expect, as author Malcolm Hulke completely rewrites the story from scratch.
In the early 1970s, the Target novelization range of ‘Doctor Who’ books began. It started with reprints of original ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations featuring the First Doctor including ‘The Daleks’, ‘The Crusaders’ and ‘The Zarbi’. The novelizations carried forwards with Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke.
These two ‘Doctor Who’ authors would take it in turns to novelize a story that was originally transmitted on TV. This would be either a story they wrote themselves or novelizing a story by another writer. One of these stories of course was ‘The Silurians’ novelized by Malcolm Hulke himself.
I purchased the 2011 reprint of ‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ from the ‘Doctor Who Experience’ in Cardiff. It was one of the last few things I purchased from the ‘Doctor Who Experience’ before it closed in 2017. I’m so glad I did as it is a fine reprint of the Target novelization.
The reason why I purchased ‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ was out of curiosity. Apparently, writer Chris Chibnall, before he became ‘Doctor Who’s showrunner, was inspired by this Target novelization when he came to write the two-parter ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’ with Matt Smith.
I wanted to find out what it was about this Target novelization that fascinated so many fans, including Chris Chibnall, and why it’s highly regarded as one of Malcolm Hulke’s best works of literature of ‘Doctor Who’. I couldn’t wait to get into this Target book as I read/listened to it in 2018.
I also purchased the audiobook of ‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ read by Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw in the TV series. It was so surreal to read this book with the audiobook in the background, since dear Caroline John passed away in 2012. It was very lovely to hear her voice again.
Caroline John comes across as a very good narrator, matching the style of her husband Geoffrey Beevers when it comes to ‘Doctor Who’ audiobooks. She’s very good in providing voices for the characters such as the Doctor, Liz, the Brigadier, Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Quinn and of course, the Silurians.
I was impressed by the voice treatment given for Caroline John when she did the Silurian voices. They sound deep and earthy. I did wonder if it was really Caroline John doing the voices for the Silurians and not Nick Briggs. But thankfully it was her since they sound so alien and unusual to hear
‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ was originally published in 1974, three years after the story was transmitted in 1970 on TV. The book was divided up into 19 chapters. I purchased the audiobook via Audible as a download. I do enjoy purchasing ‘Doctor Who’ audiobooks as downloads.
Of course when I say 19 chapters, it should really be a prologue and 18 chapters. That’s right, the book actually opens up with a prologue scene featuring the Silurians during the time when they went into hibernation. It was engaging to read how the story begins from the Silurians’ point of view.
The book also includes an introduction by Terrance Dicks on how he recalls the original TV story and novelization of ‘The Silurians’ by Malcolm Hulke. There’s also ‘The Changing Face of Doctor Who’, which was a common thing in early Target novels to identify who the ‘Doctor Who’ characters were.
At the end of the book, there’s a section called ‘About the Author’ which looks into Malcolm Hulke’s career as a writer. There’s also an in-depth section called ‘Between The Lines’, which looks at the various changes made to the story when Malcolm Hulke novelized ‘The Silurians’ from TV into prose.
‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ also includes illustrations by Chris Achilleos, who also provides the book cover’s image at the front. There’s also a plan outline given for the Wenley Moor research centre that’s featured in the novelization. I enjoyed looking at the illustrations featured in the book.
As I said before, Malcolm Hulke completely rewrites ‘The Silurians’ story from scratch in his Target novelization. From what I’ve picked up from reading the book as well as reading the ‘Between The Lines’ section and the wiki pages on the novelization, this is what I’ve observed on what’s different.
The Silurians are given names compared to how they were identified in the TV story. Originally, the three main Silurians were called Old Silurian, Young Silurian and Silurian Scientist. In the book, the Old Silurian is called Odkel, the Young Silurian is called Morka and the Silurian Scientist is called K’to.
This is much better to identify the Silurians with names in the book, as it fits in well with how they were given names in ‘Warriors of the Deep’ and ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’. And from what inspired Chris Chibnall, the Silurians are given stronger characterisations and developments in book.
A thing to mention about the Silurians is that they’re not actually Silurians in the book. They’re referred to as reptiles or reptile men, since Silurians isn’t the proper name for them. They should be called Econes. But as Terrance Dicks says for his introduction, Silurians is a better name than Econes.
An interesting point to mention is that the Doctor at one points called the Silurians ‘homo reptila’. This was the name given to the Silurians during ‘The Hungry Earth’/’Cold Blood’ story by Matt Smith’s Doctor. You see how much this Target novelization influenced Chris Chibnall’s writing for that TV tale.
The prologue scene in the book completely replaces the first scene in the TV story where Spencer and Davis are in the caves and the events of that scene are described by Quinn and the Brigadier. The scene where the Doctor is in the cyclotron room with Quinn during ‘Episode One’ is also cut out.
I must say that I really like Caroline John’s Scottish voice for Dr. Quinn. I don’t know whether it’s based on Fulton Mackay’s performance in the TV story, but I couldn’t help have him in my head when she did that voice. Quinn’s character is strongly developed during the book by Malcolm Hulke.
In fact, the relationship between Dr. Quinn and Phyllis Dawson is strongly explored in Chapter 3 of the story. Chapter 3 is dedicated to how Quinn and Miss Dawson met, became close friends with each other and had walks together before the discovery of the reptile men by Quinn had happened.
Miss Dawson is given more background in the book compared to the TV story. In the book, it seems that she had lived in London all her life, looking after her mother whilst her siblings went to American and Australia. Her mother then passed away before she went for the job at Wenley Moor.
A few minor changes to characters occur in this story from the TV version. Dr. Meredith is now a young good-looking man in the novelization whereas he was an older man in the TV story. Dr. Quinn’s name is also changed from John to Matthew as Miss Dawson is given her first name, Phyllis.
Major Baker is also renamed as Major Barker in the novelization. Quite why that’s the case, I’ve no idea. Major Barker is also given a character development due to making mistakes in the past and becoming a more edgy and bitter character compared to who he was in the TV version of the story.
An example of this is when Roberts’ death is handled. Originally, Roberts tries to strangle Miss Dawson when she shuts down the reaction. In the novelization, Roberts draws extinct animals on his clipboard and tries to strangle Liz, before he gets hit by Major Barker’s revolver that actually kills him.
Apparently, the Silurian who gets wounded and forced to the surface in the story was Morka, the Young Silurian. This wasn’t clear in the TV story as it’s made clear in the book. Chapter 8 of this story is dedicated to Morka, since we get to see what goes on from his point of view in the human world.
The death of Dr. Quinn is different in the book compared to the TV story. Whereas Quinn was killed by the Silurian and the Doctor discovers his body in the TV version, Quinn is with Miss Dawson as Morka burns down the door and breaks out of the store room. Morka kills Quinn when he escapes.
Miss Dawson also gets knocked out by Morka and she’s reduced to drawing pictures as have other characters featured in the story. This is where Miss Dawson leaves the story and she doesn’t report about Quinn’s death as on TV. Quinn’s death instead gets reported by Meredith in the novelization.
The plague sections during the last three episodes aren’t explored in great detail as the early episodes in the novelization. The montage of the Doctor and Liz trying to find a cure for the disease is quickly resolved in one chapter. This was disappointing as there wasn’t the serious impact it should’ve had.
The death of Masters also differs in the book compared to the TV story. Instead of ending up in London and spreading the disease, Masters exits the trains when it stops half-way on his journey to London. He hires a car to take him to London until he dies, as well as the car driver and a policeman.
The death of Dr. Lawrence is also handled differently in the book compared to the TV version. Instead of going berserk with the Brigadier and getting killed by the virus in the TV version (which I prefer), Lawrence gets killed by the Silurians whilst in the cyclotron room in the penultimate chapter.
The story ends with the Brigadier only sealing the Silurians in the caves in the novelization as opposed to blowing them up in the TV version. The TV version of that last scene is more effective than the book version, since the last chapter of the book is only three pages and it’s quickly handled.
Wow! I’ve said a lot about ‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ than I intended. Is ‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ a better novelization of the TV story compared to others? Yes, it many ways it is. However I get a feeling that Malcolm Hulke rushed the ending of the story compared to early parts.
I still recommend this Target novelization of a ‘Doctor Who’ story as it’s an interesting exploration of one of the finest ‘Doctor Who’ stories ever made from the early 1970s. It’s an engrossing novel by Malcolm Hulke and it’s even better with the audiobook read by Caroline John who is lovely to hear.
‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’ rating – 9/10
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